Is Your Neighbors New Landscaping Project Flooding Your House?

Did you know Florida is the flattest state in the U.S.? It is also one of the wettest states, receiving more rain than any other state during the wet summer months. Because of this, care must be taken when undertaking new construction to consider how new developments will impact the flow of water.

For example, if your neighbor decides to raise the elevation of his property, change the landscaping of his yard, or build an addition to his home, you may find yourself taking on more water than ever. This may lead to flooding, causing thousands of dollars in damage. What are your rights if you find yourself in this scenario?

Florida follows the “Reasonable Use Doctrine”. It states that a land owner may alter his land, even if it changes or increases the flow of surface water, so long as it is reasonable. Reasonableness is determined on a case by case basis, and the court may consider, the nature and importance of any improvements, whether or not the damage was reasonably foreseeable, the extent of damage compared to the value of any improvements. At this point, you may need to hire an attorney.

              Mackey Law Group has represented clients dealing with flooding caused by negligent neighbors, and are familiar with the law. Don’t let yourself get bullied accepting an unreasonable consequence from your neighbor’s construction.

By: Jorge Martinez, Esq.

SEX, LIES, AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS

In June of 2015, Jim (all names have been changed) was sitting in his office at a well-known business when Sam, a neighbor of Jim’s, walked through the lobby, stuck his head into Jim’s office, and asked him to come outside of the building to speak with him. When Jim walked outside the building front doors, Sam commenced to punch Jim, and continued to do so after Jim hit the ground. An employee ran outside and literally saved Jim. The injuries to Jim were significant. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had a broken nose and fractured orbital socket.

Things then got worse for Jim. Over the next two months, Sam placed professionally-made signs in the Bradenton neighborhood where they both lived (and had minor children), stating that there was a child molester living in their neighborhood and asking people to call a number on the sign that was Sam’s number! Sam also kept spray-painting orange arrows on the pavement in front of Jim’s house. When the HOA president attempted to remove one of the signs at the entrance of the neighborhood, he was confronted later that evening at his house by Sam, who had placed a game-camera in the bushes by the entrance-way sign!

What caused all of the above?

Sam’s minor daughter had apparently been having disciplinary problems and had, the morning of the assault, told Sam’s wife what Jim had improperly touched her years earlier. Absent asking any questions, Sam had taken everything his teenage daughter said at face value. Sam left the house, drove to Jim’s place of employment, and assaulted Jim. Sam then proceeded to place the above-referenced signs and painted arrows. In turn, Jim and his family were mortified. They actually had to move out of the neighborhood to a neighboring town. How could a man possibly defend such unsubstantiated allegations? The worst thing a married man with children could possibly be called is a child-molester!

What happened next?

That’s when Jim came to Mackey Law Group. We gathered all the facts and commenced a civil action against Sam. Mackey Law Group also proceeded to retain one of the best experts in the country as to defending the totally false allegations.

Sam hired a Sarasota lawyer, who was affiliated with a Miami firm. Sam’s lawyer was high-brow and “specialized in child abuse cases”. Sam even counterclaimed on behalf of his daughter against Jim. Sam and his lawyer tried anything they could to legally intimidate Jim and his family. They actually demanded that Jim pay Sam’s family money! Sam’s lawyer was adamant and condescending the whole way through the lawsuit, repeatedly stating things to Mackey Law Group’s lawyers such as: “You have a pedophile on your hands what are y’all going to do?”

But Mackey Law Group’s attorneys believed in our client, navigated the case around the many obstacles put up by Sam’s legal team, and we kept pushing to get to trial on the false accusations and outrageous conduct/battery. Although it was expensive for Jim, he refused to bow-down to such bully-tactics. By the time trial was nearing, Mackey Law Group’s lawyers had even documented the accusing girl’s (Sam’s daughter) story as changing no less than 7 times! Sam’s legal intimidation tactics had not worked.

How was the case resolved?

Finally, when trial was upon the parties, Sam’s lawyer asked for a continuance of the trial, which the Judge refused to do. Then Sam’s lawyer asked for mediation and the Judge granted Sam’s lawyer’s request. At mediation, Mackey Law Group opened the proceeding by literally shocking the other side with its preparation. Our lawyers were on task and put on Jim’s complete case in summary fashion; inclusive of: photographs, police reports, hospital records, and our expert’s analysis that the event referenced by the accusing minor girl never happened. Conversely, Sam and his lawyers appeared to have nothing to fight back with. They actually appeared to be stunned.

As a result, Mackey Law Group got Sam to agree to: (i) pay Jim $175,000 cash; (ii) never disparage Jim again; and (iii) the entry of a no-contact order as to Jim and his entire family for the rest of Sam’s life; he cannot come within 500 feet of Jim’s family. In addition, Mackey Law Group forced Sam to agree that the settlement would not be confidential; that way, Jim could go back to his former neighbors and show them exactly what the result was as to the false accusations and battery by Sam.

The moral of this?

Never back down to bullies. Stand up for yourself when you are in the right. And, when necessary, hire the very best lawyers you know. Justice will prevail.

By: Peter J. Mackey, Esq.